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Three council members take oath of office in Snellville

Judge Mark Layng administers oath of office to Barbara Bender, who was accompanied by husband Greg and son Nick at Monday’s ceremony in Snellville. (Photo: Carole Townsend)

Judge Mark Layng administers oath of office to Barbara Bender, who was accompanied by husband Greg and son Nick at Monday’s ceremony in Snellville. (Photo: Carole Townsend)

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Mayor Kelly Kautz, front center, with council members Diane Krause, front left, Barbara Bender, front right, Dave Emanuel, back row left to right, Bobby Howard and Tom Witts during Monday’s meeting in Snellville. (Photo: Carole Townsend)

SNELLVILLE — Three council members were sworn in to office Monday night, on the heels of a hotly contested Nov. 5 election.

Municipal court judge Mark Layng administered the oath of office to mayor pro tem Tom Witts and councilwoman Barbara Bender. Executive Director/Administrator of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity for the Governor's Office, Melvin Everson, administered the oath to councilman Bobby Howard. The standing-room-only audience gave a standing ovation following each brief ceremony.

“It’s going to be a great four years for me, and for this city,” Howard said Monday.

“I’m excited to be back, probably more than I thought I’d be,” Bender said, taking a seat back on the council dais after resigning her post a little more than two years ago to run for mayor. Bender then took the opportunity to invite all Snellville residents to join in making the city a better place to live.

Council members, mayor comment on election

All five council members that now serve Snellville took the opportunity Monday to encourage each other and residents to put aside any differences that have plagued the city for years, and work together to improve the quality of life in Snellville.

“We are a diverse council, and that’s good,” said councilwoman Diane Krause, who contends that a diverse council holds itself accountable and serves the city well.

Bender, saying that the only “clique” in Snellville is one to which anyone who wants to help is invited, said the she is ready to look forward and get to work.

In her mayor’s comments, Kautz said that, contrary to what some may think, she does not plan to resign. She is ready to put together her kitchen cabinet and get to work.

“This election has been eye opening for me … This is God’s way of teaching me a lesson,” said Kautz, adding that she does not have to like all the council members in order to work with them. “We all need to work together.”

Oak Road Park on city’s radar for completion

Mayor pro tem Tom Witts asked city manager Butch Edwards for his support in moving ahead with the development of a passive park on Oak Road.

“The big complaint in this area has been that there are no sidewalks,” Witts said. The city set aside $150,000 to begin developing the park, by clearing land and building trails on the site.

A $28,000 bid is on the table for that scope of work, but it will likely not be fully vetted until Wednesday, according to Sanders. After a planned Wednesday meeting, the city manager hopes to commence clearing and proceed with further development. Once work begins on the site, the priority of the project will be recognized with respect to SPLOST funding, Witts said.

City Planning Commissioner Tod Warner addressed the mayor and council Monday, asking that they consider naming the park for former mayor Jerry Oberholtzer, who championed development of the park for many years.

“I’m sorry to say that at one time, I stood in his way on (this park), and I hope you’ll consider naming it in honor of him,” Warner said.

City manager honors Veterans Day

Sanders took the opportunity Monday to honor veterans by reading a short passage written by a Vietnam veteran, and asking everyone in attendance Monday to repeat the names of two veterans who served in that campaign.

“As long as we keep saying their names, they will never die,” Sanders said, adding that he takes a moment every Veterans Day to say the same words and ask that the names be repeated.

LCI project to move forward

Sanders and the city will move ahead with a $2 million-plus construction agreement between the city, Georgia Department of Transportation and the federal government. The funds, which amount to 80 percent of the cost of the total project, will be used to improve Oak Road, Clower Boulevard and Wisteria Drive in Snellville.

“It’s really unbelievable that it’s my first night back (on council), and we’re finally taking this first step toward on the LCI,” Bender said. The project has been on the drawing table for years, and progress to this point has been slow.

Substantial completion of the project is slated for no later than Oct. 15, 2014, with actual completion no later than Dec. 15, 2014.